The Last Conversation





Today, it’s four years since she left us, our dear friend and classmate Elsie Abraham. We first met when we were ten years old. She was innocent and full of joy. We would laugh at big things and every silly thing. We lived in Chennai and studied in a convent.

We were a closely- knit group of five, like the three musketeers.(Sujatha, Sudha, Alice, Elsie and I) We studied in the same convent till we finished schooling in 1970.

In 1971, I moved to Delhi, and lost touch with her. There were no mobile phones or Facebook to keep in touch. The STD calls were painful and not exciting to connect. One had to shout and scream to talk, and we would end up with a bad throat.

Then when I moved to Coimbatore in 1983 she surprised me one fine day.She came to see me with her husband and children. She had settled down in Trichur and was a teacher in a Secondary school. After that we were in touch till 1986 when once again I moved to Mumbai. We lost touch for the second time.

But somewhere the bond of childhood friendship is strong, and face book helped us to meet again after two decades. This time I travelled to Trichur where she lived. I’m happy that I spent some lovely moments with her and family. I met her husband and their beautiful daughter Sarah, and was delighted to know that her students loved her just the way we did. She was a popular teacher in school. Since that day we were in touch.

However when she retired she moved to Bangalore, to live with her daughter. She missed the place and her friends in Trichur. She was feeling low when I called her. What I feel strange is the conversation we had, a week before she passed away. She was suffering from a severe bout of cold and cough.

We had a nice long conversation, the only thing that was missing was the hot steaming coffee. We laughed like old times. In school we would laugh all the time… those days we were naughty, and we shared many experiences which we would discuss about and laugh whole heartedly.

That day when I called we shared a lot and reminisced about our school days. We went back many decades and relived some experiences. Unusually we spoke for a very long time, and I’m happy I did that.

At the end of it, she said “I’m happy you called me. I’m feeling much better.”

At our age one tends to talk about health and that was the last conversation we had. Both of us had a weak heart. Probably when you give a lot of love to others, your heart does not hold on for long.

We spoke about old age and suffering, and I said: ” Wish I would get a heart attack in my sleep.” That would be the best way to go away.

She said, “You are not going to die now, so why talk about that.” And we laughed again. But l didn’t think she would do just that. My heart skipped many beats when I heard she was no more just four days after our conversation.

She passed away ( with a massive cardiac arrest) in her sleep. I was shocked, it was hard to believe. We had laughed so much that day. How could she go away like that? I wondered.
And then her daughter said, “ Aunty, mom had mentioned that day about your call, and how much she enjoyed the conversation.”

Love you Elsie for being a great friend, an excellent teacher and a loving mother. “You went away peacefully just the way you were. Miss you a lot, our friend” …The five musketeers… Sujata Ramanathan, Sudha Loganathan, AliceKoshy, Bina Pillai and Elsie Abraham. Thanks to the technology, and Facebook the remaining four of us are in touch now.

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